06/17/16: FIBA looks for magic with Wanda; UFC suitors offer sweetheart deals; ITV/Sky level up eSports ties


Good morning. It’s Friday June 17, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Lots of news surrounding China yesterday. FIBA announced a long-term deal with Wanda, via its subsidiary Infront Sports & Media, that will see Wanda serve as the federation’s worldwide exclusive partner for the sale and marketing of the worldwide sponsorship and licensing rights. The deal runs through 2033 and includes the FIBA Basketball World Cups and their Qualifiers, the Men’s and Women’s Continental Cups and their Qualifiers, as well as the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cups and Youth World Championships. The partnership will see the creation of FIBA Marketing, focused on supporting FIBA in further developing the awareness and value of national team basketball on a global basis, with an emphasis on China.

"This strategic partnership is of significant importance to FIBA,” said Patrick Baumann, FIBA Secretary General. “It is another tangible result of FIBA’s ambitions to accelerate the growth by unlocking the true potential of national team basketball, bringing the game to a new level globally and tapping into emerging markets in Asia, Americas and Africa. With our new event schedule and an eagerly anticipated FIBA Basketball World Cup in China coming up, it is the right time to initiate a long-term strategic collaboration with a partner that shares our vision for basketball and is ready to make significant efforts to see it through.”


Meanwhile, ESPN reports that UFC is hitting its end game for a potential sale, with two bid groups in the mix – WME-IMG in conjunction with China’s Dalian Wanda Group, and China Media Capital. Both bids are over $4 billion with both competing groups still trying to completely finance the buyout for the entire company. Proposals reportedly include the Kraft Group in the WME-IMG bid.

Meanwhile, WWE locked in an exclusive multi-year content distribution agreement with China’s PPTV, the return of a WWE live event to Shanghai on Sept. 10 and Bin Wang as the first-ever Chinese talent signed to a developmental contract. PPTV’s deal includes a multi-year agreement to deliver WWE flagship shows Raw and SmackDown in Mandarin. “There’s a long history between PPTV Sports and WWE in programming distribution. Now with the new exclusive partnership, these joint efforts will bring passion and family-friendly fun of WWE programing to millions of fans here in China just like in the U.S.,” said Stephen Zhang, General Manager of PPTV Sports.

NBC Olympics continues to bolster its talent lineup, announcing that Today’s Hoda Kotb will join Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira as hosts for the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games on Aug. 5 on NBC. Kotb will serve as an NBC Olympics correspondent throughout the Games and be a part of the TODAY anchor team in Rio throughout the Olympics.

DIRECTV launched 4K coverage of the US Open, offering viewers play from holes 3, 13 and 17 during the tournament on channel 705. In addition, DIRECTV will offer the US Open Experience’ on channel 701, which will offer four different HD feeds and stats. 

Which path will you follow? Cynopsis is proud to bring our annual Sports Business Summit and eSports Conference on June 23. You will have 19 sessions to pick from and a slate of executives to network with from across the business spectrum. All for one price! Catch up on how OTT will alter your programming plans. Learn the marketing secrets to access the gaming community. Discover how tech will forever change the sports experience. Get vital statistical insights into audiences from comScore and Nielsen. Attend our Hall of Fame ceremonies. The choice is yours but you only benefit if you are there. So buy your tickets now!

NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions returns on Saturday at 8:30p out of Chicago and highlighted by a 10-round light heavyweight bout between Andrzej Fonfara/Joe “The Irish Bomber” Smith Jr. Marv Albert calls the action beside analyst B.J. Flores. Liam McHugh hosts the telecast, with Kenny Rice reporting from ring-side. Errol Spence Jr. will make his broadcast debut as a guest analyst on Saturday’s card.

Nickelodeon announced plans to debut its new Rob Gronkowski series Crashletes on July 5 at 7p. The series will see the Patriot offer viewers “the wildest and most outrageous sports moments captured on camera from amateur athletes who give it their all, but fall short of greatness.” Gronkowski joins co-hosts Stevie Nelson and Brandon Broady to offer analysis.

Tony Hawk will join Todd Richards and Travis Pastrana to host the inaugural Nitro World Games, which air on July 16 on NBC at 8p. “Todd, Tony and Travis bring a tremendous amount of knowledge, credibility and expertise to the Nitro World Games. Having athletes of their stature participating is fantastic,” said Michael Porra, CEO and creative director for Nitro Circus. “They will inform, entertain and engage both core action sports fans and the wider mainstream audience.”

ESPN launches 2016 Canadian Football League regular season on June 23 when the Toronto Argonauts host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 7:30p on ESPNEWS. Opening weekend coverage continues on ESPN2 on June 24 at 8:30p with Montreal/Winnipeg and BC/Calgary on June 25.

In celebration of the Conference’s 100-year anniversary, Pac-12 Networks is offering a half-hour Pac-12 All-Century: Centennial Stories special hosted by Mike Yam on June 27 at 7:30p across all seven networks. John Elway, Gary Payton, Megan Marsden and Anthony Roblesare some of the featured athletes from Pac-12 All-Century teams who are included in the special. Meanwhile, Conference of Champions: Chasing Gold runs on July 4 at 70 with a look at conference Olympic athletes.


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ESPN announced the second annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN, with a highlight package set to air on the main channel on July 15 at 7p. The event honors “leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sport to make a positive impact on society” and takes place on July 12. Laila Ali returns as host, with a performance by Andra Day and net proceeds benefitting the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation. During the event, winners will be announced from nominees of four award categories including Sports Humanitarian of the Year, Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, and two new awards in 2016, the Corporate Community Impact Award and League Humanitarian Leadership Award. Additionally, three Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees will be recognized.

American menswear designer John Varvatos is again working with the NHL for the 2016 NHL Awards. Varvatos created bespoke styles for a select list of players, who are finalists for awards, including Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning Goaltender), Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames Defenseman), Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals Goaltender), Matt Martin (New York Islanders Forward). This marks the sixth year Varvatos showcased its new collections at the NHL Awards.

The LA Galaxy and Metropolitan are teaming up to promote water-saving with H2Love starting July 1. The campaign targets fans in Southern California. The campaign will leverage digital and social media both in and outside the team’s home stadium, in addition to an on-site display booth during select home games through the rest of the season to promote its water-saving message. Metropolitan will also become an official sponsor of the LA Galaxy’s “Protect the Pitch” program. The Galaxy will also use reclaimed water across all its soccer fields and plants at StubHub Center.

Sqor Sports in launching an in-house content programming and production operation, Sqor Sports Studios in a move to work with the company’s roster of athletes and teams to create original branded content. The first production will feature Brett Favre’s journey towards and beyond his NFL Hall of Fame induction.

Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment announced that the Niagara University Department of Athletics has selected the company’s Collegiate Services Division to manage the department’s multimedia and corporate sponsorships rights. The VWSE Collegiate Services team will oversee the locally based operation  “Niagara Athletics Sponsorships”  and will be dedicated to management of the corporate sponsorship program including multimedia resources, local broadcast and digital assets, venue signage, on-site marketing and promotions, promotional rights to athletic marks and hospitality opportunities.


Oberto Beef Jerky and Nitro Circus joined forces to create a new digital series, World’s First, featuring the action sports athletes performing “daring and record-breaking new tricks, some of which will be attempted for the first time ever.” The series will run weekly on Thursdays on the Oberto & Nitro Circus Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels, and include tricks such as the Frontflip Superman, 3 Person Flip, 360 Superman, and more.

Global instant messaging app Thumbkandi partnered with Copa America Centenario to release an official emoji-sticker collection surrounding the quarterfinals. The collections mark the first-ever tactile animated stickers hand-drawn by famed Brazilian artist Cristiano Siqueria.
FloSports announced that FloWrestling will continue and expand upon its partnership with World of Wrestling, which will now utilize FloSports’ FloArena software at all of its youth wrestling tournaments. “We are really excited for our partnership with World of Wrestling to take another step,” FloSports co-founder and CEO Martin Floreani said. “FloArena enhances the way fans interact and engage with wrestling events, and we’re thrilled that WOW will be able to utilize FloArena and all its features moving forward.”


The UK and Ireland are set to get a 24-hour eSports channel with heavyweights Sky and ITV partnering with Ginx TV to launch GINX eSports TV. ITV and Sky expected to take minority stakes in the business to support its growth, according to the platform. The channel will rebrand from Ginx TV and offer fans major eSports tournaments from around the world with complimentary programming. Outside the UK & Ireland, GINX eSports TV will be distributed to an additional 23 million households, making it the largest eSports TV channel in the world, reaching 37 million homes.

Research intelligence group Leger unveiled new research about the tied between “Let’s Play” (LP) videos and eSports. According to the study, nearly three in five U.S. adults with children (61%) have had at least one person in their household watch a clip involving a video game being played by another person. The report also showed gamers vary in age, with more than a quarter of the gaming community being 50 years of age or older. According to the Leger research, the eSports viewer profile in the US shows that, among those households with someone who has already watched a LP video, interest in eSports hits 55%. “The Leger data, combined with the viewership data, supports that the gaming community continues to be an entrenched one,” said Lance Henik. “Once you connect the dots between family gaming to Let’s Play watchers to e-sports watchers, one can see e-sports as not just ‘a thing’ but it could be the next Big Thing.”

Facebook has reportedly reeled in Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis as the company’s new eSports strategic partnerships manager, according to TechCrunch. He will now looks to recruit top game developers and players to bring streaming content to the platform.


Raycom Sports named Bill Lancaster as Vice President of Sales. He joins Raycom from First Coast News/TEGNA where he served as Vice President-Station Manager and Director of Sales since 2014.

NESN announced that Michael R. Hall was promoted to Senior Vice President, Digital. Hall, most recently served as NESN’s Vice President, Digital, oversees NESN’s digital strategy, content, and business development.


US Open action on FS1 today from 10a-5p, followed by FOX from 5-8p.


Arm your Team with the Tools They Need to Succeed!
The New Ratings 101: How to Use Data to Make Your Case Webinar

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Date: Tuesday, July 12 | Time: 1:30 PM
Questions? Please contact Trish Pihonak: trish@cynopsis.com.

ON THIS DAY in 1976: The NBA and ABA merge.

In The Know: Who was known as The Splendid Splinter? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was Ebby Calvin LaLoosh’s nickname in Bull Durham? Answer: While Crash called him “meat,” his nickname was “Nuke.” Kudos: Frank Brown-NHL/NY; Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Nick Gaetano-MLB Advanced Media/NY; Phyllis Toss-Maxus Global/NY; Joe Sikorski-Tennis Channel/NY; Chris Kiernan-MVPindex/Southport; Michael Narracci-NESN/Watertown; Dave Lucas-Newschannel 8/Arlington; John Langermann-WINK-TV/WXCW-TV/Fort Myers; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; John Ward-Tennis Channel/Chicago; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Mariah Baker-NBC Sports Group/Denver; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Joey Olson/Manhattan Beach; Jeff Mirkin-Heartland Poker Tour/Santa Monica; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside.

Later — Chris
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